Elska Magazine, the gay photography and culture project that travels around the world meeting men from diverse LGBTQ communities, releases its latest issue. This time they headed to Seoul, Korea where readers are invited to get to know the city and some of its queer residents through honest photography and personal storytelling.
Seoul is one of the trendiest cities in Asia. Known for its influential fashion, its slick Kpop scene, its booming cosmetics industry, and its cutting-edge technology, Korea is also home to a conservative society where traditional family values and strict expectations reign.
“This has been the most difficult issue to make yet”, says Liam Campbell, editor and chief photographer of Elska, “We contacted literally hundreds of guys but the vast majority preferred to stay ‘discreet’, fearing that exposure in any sort of gay media could jeopardise their jobs, their families, everything. Fortunately with the help of some local LGBTQ artists, activists, and drag queens, we managed to find some participants who were willing to open up and make this issue happen.”
In the end eighteen men from Seoul were photographed for ‘Elska Seoul‘. Inside, each gets their own chapter, filled with a combination of on-the-street and at-home photography, dressed in their own style or sometimes not dressed at all, plus a personal story. The result is a reading experience that gives an intimate look inside queer Seoul, as if we travelled together with the Elska team to Seoul and met these guys in real life.
Some of the men in the Seoul issue include:
- Uin L, who shares his experience during a trip to a traditional bathhouse (a jjimjilbang), told through a lens of uncertainty and self-consciousness;
- Jay S, who describes the moment when his mother confronts him with the accusation that he is gay;
- Ivan J, who recounts an afternoon of vegetable-aided masturbation set to the soundtrack of hymnal Bach;
- Heezy Y, who talks about the difficulties of finding success in a society so full of expectations and conformity;
- Jose S-M, who as one of a large number of foreigners living in Seoul reflects upon his seven years living in the city;
- James K, who discusses trying to reconcile how to be a Korean man against the opposing standard of masculinity set by his father.
‘Elska Seoul’ is 180 pages. It is available in a classic collectible print version or in a downloadable e-version. A companion zine called ‚Elska Ekstra Seoul’ which contains outtakes, behind the scenes details, and extra stories, is also available, including in a very limited 100-copy print run.. A list of stockists and details of how to order online can be found on the Elska website: www.elskamagazine.com.